Hello Sam can be found at 760 Chapel Street peddling its small but relatively well-rounded menu of lamb, chicken and beef burgers to discerning (and, no doubt, undiscerning) customers. While this was my first time, members of the group had already sampled the burgers and made the massive statement that they we the best the city has to offer. Having recently moved from London, where the gourmet burger and craft beer culture is hugely pervasive, this was indeed something that needed to be investigated.
Try Bru itself is to be found just round the corner.
First came the Hot Sahara burger. A lamb patty with red pepper and a spicy harissa mayo, served on a soft brioche bun. The beer was a dark 2 Brothers Growler. The burger was very tasty, a little spicy, with a good amount of moistness. The patty itself was slightly too thin to support all the bread, which was true of all of the burgers to a certain extent, but since these were deliberately smaller than the usual (we did have to eat THREE of them), this was more than forgivable under the circumstances. The beer was light, despite its colour at just 4.7%, and yet still fulsome enough to withstand the spices and lambiness of the burger.
The next burger was a chicken number, Chipotle Bandido, with Mexican overtones. Guacamole, maybe a touch of salsa and a supposed chipotle mayo. As a fillet, rather than say southern fried, this is a difficult burger to get right. It can be dry and tasteless. Unfortunately this one was exactly that. Dry to the point of leaving splinters of desiccated chicken piercing my tongue. That may be a slight exaggeration, but actions speak louder and all that, and that chicken was sat on my plate, not in my belly, when the plates were cleared. The beer, a Garage Project Venusian Pale Ale, however, was a taste sensation. An at 7.5% it probably should have been. The Tru Bru referee's description was full of citrus and spices: lemon peel, lemon grass etc. and they really came through. Rounded out with a hoppy sweetness and a touch of bitterness, it was a fantastic beer.
Thankful that I hadn't tucked into the chicken, the final burger was the straight up classic: Simple Sam. Beef patty, red onion, spot of relish. For those real burger purists, this is the yardstick to go by. It was a clean burger; fresh and tasty. I am pretty far from a purist, I like all the gooey, garlicky, cheesy, spicy tastiness you can stick into and onto a meat patty, but I had to appreciate the straightforward wholesomeness of the burger. The beer with this one, well, it was a monster (ahem). At 9.2%, the Kaiju is a huge beer; a mid-brown, hoppy punch in the mouth. Sweet and unbelievably full, it is a sipper, not a swigger and definitely not a chugger. Some were unable to finish even glass one.
In practice, three burgers is quite a lot to handle, and some of even the larger grownups struggled to hand back clean plates. The Tru Bru ref was a little unsure of herself at times, and though the knowledge all fitted with what we were drinking and tasting, she seemed to have learnt her part, rather than talking from the heart. Other than these minor issues, it was a fun idea and good night.
Two smallish glasses of each beer, adding up to maybe a schooner or pint, and three mid-size burgers for $40 wasn't bad at all for a Sunday night.
Eyes open for more from Tru Bru events, I think.